Phoenix Spends $6.8 Million to Make Changes in Reverse Lane Signage That Aren't Really Needed

lane change sign phoenix.JPG

The city of Phoenix is spending $6.8 million to add flashing beacons and alter signs to its reverse lane program -- even though stats show the so-called "suicide lanes" aren't really dangerous.

True, we usually avoid the darned things out of fear of using them incorrectly. The program, begun 30 years ago, utilizes turn lanes in the middle of the 7th Street and 7th Avenue to carry an extra load of rush-hour traffic. The signs can be a bit confusing, stating verbosely that they're to be used only for through-traffic in certain directions during certain times.

Some of the new signs that use pictures and flashing lights to help advise motorists will be in place by August 15 in the intersection of 7th Avenue and Camelback Road. In another major change, motorists for the first time will be able to make left turns from the turn lane during reverse lane hours in that intersection. The other signs will be added in 2012, city officials say.

Phoenix has received lots of complaints about the reverse lane program over the years, and especially about the signage, says city spokeswoman Sina Matthes.

"They complained it wasn't clear," Matthes says. "And there is a perception that reverse lanes aren't safe."

To our surprise, she followed that statement up with, "But the data doesn't support that."


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Image: City of Phoenix Reverse Lanes Quick Facts
A fact sheet from the city of Phoenix emphasizes statistics that prove streets with reverse lanes aren't more dangerous than nearby thoroughfares.
Matthes says a traffic study commissioned by Phoenix shows that reverse lanes are no more of a cause for collisions than other lanes.

Now that's a classic example of bureaucracy: Fixing something that isn't broke.

So the new signs aren't really needed? we ask Matthes. She pauses. "The city council directed us to do this," she says. "The new signage does improve safety."

Well, make that might improve safety, if there's any on which to be improved. The real problem with the program, as we see it, is that it makes motorists confused and a little crazy as they try to defeat it by making U-turns, cutting into side-streets, etc.

The Phoenix City Council voted 7-1 in June to make the changes to the reverse-lane program, following input from a citizens commission.

Clearly, the investment in reverse-lane signage means the program is here to stay. But that's a good thing, since the same Phoenix traffic study also showed that without them, travel times on 7th Street and 7th Ave during rush hour would increase by 50 to 90 percent.

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18 comments
bee
bee

sickening.

Sid
Sid

I only wish that Grand Avenue would be as vocal and supported as well by their councilperson. If so, then there would be signage that would inform people traveling at 50+ mph that there is actually street parking on Grand between 15th Ave and 7th Ave., except during rush hour.

Anon
Anon

NO to spending taxpayers' $$'s on legislators/special interests scams to line their pockets. Haven't we learned from the failed highway cameras boondoggle? Tell the public who makes money off this newest scam?

Anon
Anon

Who is the sign maker?

Gonzo di Dottore
Gonzo di Dottore

no turns at major cross streets.  people are fucking idiots about these lanes - they don't read the signs, or think that "no turns" shouldn't apply to them.  People also don't understand clocks.  I won't use these lanes (except to pass) within 30 minutes of the start/end time because it is suicidal.

Concerned Suicide Lane Fan
Concerned Suicide Lane Fan

The more scared folks that stay off of the lanes, the better.  Leave them to the people that understand how they work, and use them correctly to improve their commute to their homes in Central Phoenix..

TheSignMaker
TheSignMaker

The signs in place now are past the end of their service life (10 yrs). The new signs simply reflect changes made by the Fed (MUTCD). As for the beacons..........complete waste of taxpayer money!

Coz
Coz

Amazing....I have a bridge to sell, wonder if Phoenix would buy that too.Idiots, no wonder this state is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Concerned Citizen/Taxpayer
Concerned Citizen/Taxpayer

They're busy turning Arizona into a prison state by adding 5,000 more beds, while all other agencies budgets were slashed. Hiding out in the small desert towns out of sight.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

LIghts on the reverse lanes? Sorry, that's $6.8 million well spent. You don't always have time to look at your watch when you decide to use the lane. Is it 3:59:59 and you don't realize it's ticked over to 4 pm? What about the other guy? What if his sense of time is a little, shal we say, different? I had a friend that had lived in the Phoenix area for all of his 28 years, picked up his car after rear ending some lady who decided that the middle of an intersection was a splendid place to stop and check directions (Must have been the lighting), and he spaced the time, pulled into the lane, and immediately got hit. 1 flat tire, 1 destroyed corner panel, and 1 perfectly removed front bumper later, he was trying to change his tire to get off the road, a car pulled up, and two guys got out. He thought they were there to see if he needed help. Instead, they grabbed his bumper, put it in their car and took off without saying a word. That part was just a funny ending to the story, he was pissed...

Long story even longer; having an OFFICIAL, well marked indicator for when you can and can't use the lane is nothing but a good idea, I don't care about how many accidents there have or haven't been, it's been something I personally have been looking for since I moved to Phoenix in 1990 and first discovered them.

teknik1200 1 hour ago in reply to Mikey1969so over 22 years you still have not learned and adjusted?

are you fighting the concept in your head or what?

it takes one drive down the road to learn. that money is better spent elsewhere, we are broke.. and as the saying goes "if it ant broke, don't fix it".

it's funny when people see something they don't like, and instead of adapting and adjusting they get hung up on the issue and fret about it for years on end."

"Fighting the concept"? Nope, I just avoid those roads like the plague. You want to know why? Because I am grounded in reality, I know that every single rush hour there is a car out there that hasn't encountered the reverse lane before, whether they've only recently moved to the Valley, or they are from out of town. See, I'm not such an asshole that I scream "Adapt or die!!" out my window if someone screws up in those lanes, I've come to expect it. Using your "logic", we should eliminate all stop signs, one way street signs, no left turn signs, no U-turn signs, no left turn signs, no right on red signs, etc. from the nation's street, because apparently it just "takes one drive down the road to learn" those, too.

See the difference? YOU are in your own little world, and fuck everybody else. Me, on the other hand, I am smart enough to realize that not everybody gets a straight-to-the-brain briefing on a city's traffic peculiarities when they first set rubber to asphalt in said city.

Concerned Suicide Lane Fan
Concerned Suicide Lane Fan

If it's within a couple or minutes near the beginning or the end, either don't use the lanes as one-way pass throughs, or keep your eyes open for how other people are using the lanes.  It's that easy.  In fact, keeping your eyes open and paying attention while on the road are good ideas in general..

Coz
Coz

I just stay off of them, that's even easier

teknik1200
teknik1200

so over 22 years you still have not learned and adjusted?

are you fighting the concept in your head or what?

it takes one drive down the road to learn.  that money is better spent elsewhere, we are broke.. and as the saying goes "if it ant broke, don't fix it".

it's funny when people see something they don't like, and instead of adapting and adjusting they get hung up on the issue and fret about it for years on end.

Concerned Suicide Lane Fan
Concerned Suicide Lane Fan

Eliminating the turns at the major intersections is one of the best things that make the suicide lanes actually work!  The only way a turn signal will work is if you can ONLY turn at that intersection during the signal -- but I'm sure people that don't make the signal will just sit there and wait to turn anyway.  Which will completely ruin the flow of the lanes..

Mistalee
Mistalee

I've seen some NASTY accidents in the reverse lane of seventh street. The kind where you can only hang on and hope that no stray wheels, flying bumpers or severed heads come crashing through your windshield.

Which way is northbound ?
Which way is northbound ?

They once sent a chimpanzee to orbit the Earth in a space satellite.

But it is impossible for an idiot from Phoenix to drive a Plymouth Satellite on the "Sevens" without a crash landing it into something.

And the God dude claims it is humans who are his finest creations.Wrong again, Mr. Almighty

Sbplum
Sbplum

Wow! You saw both accidents?..

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